When I was at school, my dad and I used to have Crystal Palace season tickets. Through some quite turgid years of turning up every week in the pouring rain to watch inept performances against the likes of Grimsby and Colchester (one evening match sticks in the mind where we were being hammered at home to Crewe and the crowd were chanting for the descending fog to worsen so the match would be abandoned), these days I’m restricted to following from afar through the wonders of the internet.
Living in Asia has its own timezone complications, meaning Saturday 3pm kickoffs start at midnight in Japan, and evening games start at 3 or 4 in the morning. Not that this always stops me, as the 3am wake up call to watch us better Brighton in last year’s play off semi final was definitely worth the tired day at work that followed. Trying to celebrate quietly while Helen was sleeping next to me was a different challenge, and though I ran into the next room to celebrate Wilf Zaha’s first goal, she asked me if I was feeling alright on my return as she thought I’d run to the bathroom to throw up!
Being back in England for the Christmas break allowed the opportunity for the Selhurst Park magic (?!) to be rekindled once again, and my dad and I went to our first game together since New Year’s Day 2012, which happened to be the last time I was back in the country.
Cue driving rain and a torrid wind, just walking from the car to the ground was a challenge enough, let alone playing football in that weather. The result of last year’s play off win is that this season we’re back in the Premier League, and with that we couldn’t get tickets near our old seats so had to make do with some cramped seats in the dilapidated Main stand. Due to the weather, the game was as poor as in the old days; at our end of the pitch, the two corner flags on opposing sides were blowing in opposite directions the wind was so bad. Playing Norwich, both teams saw out a 1-1 draw which didn’t particularly help either team in the league, but until the next time I’m back in England it was good to be home.